Tag Archives: woman

I’mpossible

I make a vision board every year, and I’ve done so for about five years.

I’ve written about my vision boards before. I’m part of a small circle of women who gather some time in November or December to create vision boards for the coming year. We enter the process prayerfully, asking God ahead of time what the year’s word or theme should be. Then we come together, blank canvases in hand. We also bring the current year’s board, and we each share how God worked through the items on the poster. Next we invite the Holy Spirit to lead us in the words and images we’ll pull from leftover magazines, and we begin. We give ourselves several hours to complete the task.

I mean … it’s kinda funny. We each sit on the floor with a 99¢ poster board before us. We’re surrounded by the hurricane-like chaos of ripped magazines, discarded bits of paper and cheap shiny embellishments, using–then discarding–scissors, vying for glue sticks, pasting cut-out words and images to the poster while the pink tips of our tongues poke from the corners of our mouths. It’s like elementary school or something! Yet God uses all of it. Our prayers, our first-grade tools, our silly seriousness. It’s so like him to meet us in this child-like moment, when what we’re doing feels huge and important to us, but probably not so much to a Father with greater responsibilities on his radar. Yet he looks at his daughters’ hand-made work with loving eyes, discerning his own face and our very hearts in each sticky cut-out, and judging them valuable, important. It’s very kind, very loving of him. But I digress.

Earlier this week I was lying in bed looking at my 2014 board (it’s on the wall beside my bed so I’ll see it when I wake) thinking about the post I needed to finish, and my eyes landed on the bottom left corner. It’s a picture of a woman striking a punching bag. Across the bottom I’d pasted the word “I’mpossible.”

photo 2 photo

And that’s what I love about making a vision board: The vision part.

When I was sitting on my friend’s living room floor making this board, I didn’t really think about why I was attracted to that picture. I just cut it out–and then that picture made it to the board when other images I’d chosen were eventually thrown in the discard pile.

And I didn’t put any deep thought into why I cut out “I’mpossible.” I remember thinking it was catchy. But why did I paste that word/phrase on top of that image?

As always, at different times through the year my eyes would be drawn to different areas on the board. Almost every day I’d stare at the board, my eyes skipping and skimming over the words and images. Occasionally they’d land on some segment, and I’d suddenly find context in those unpremeditated scraps.

That woman punching that bag with that word beneath her has been there all year. My eyes always skipped past her, until earlier this week, when suddenly that corner of the board had context. For so long I didn’t think it was possible to be comfortable in my own skin: To be wholly myself and still wholly acceptable. To be strong and be a woman. To be powerful and determined woman and be a Christ-follower who is feminine and pleasing to God. But it is, and I am. I’m possible.

What ands are you struggling to reconcile?

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Secure Tracie

As far back as I can remember, people have called me bossy, resilient, a leader, overbearing, commanding, attractive, tough, compelling, mean, powerful, sassy, opinionated…

When I was a 19-year-old legal secretary, my bosses thought I was closer to 30. They suggested we celebrate my birthday at the local bar. When I told them I wouldn’t be old enough to drink for another year, their jaws hit the floor. “But you’re so …”

And when I was 28 (same field, different workplace), a co-worker thought I was in my 40s. “Now that I look at you,” she said, peering at my face,” I can see you’re nowhere near 40. But you seem so … ”

Don’t say it, I thought, cringing inside.

“Strong.”

Of all the labels, I heard that one most. And I hated it. “Strong” was at odds with everything I believed I was supposed to be. I was on a quest to be the perfect Christian woman. We aren’t supposed to be strong. We’re supposed to be delicate, quiet, submissive. This strength thing kept tripping me up.

Plus, strength inherently requires responsibility. (Like Spider-Man!) It kept happening: People would perceive strength as authority for some crazy reason, and they’d feel compelled to, like, listen to me or something. I already had enough to do without being responsible for whatever dumb thing came out of my mouth!

But worst of all, some people (many people) would react to me in painful ways. I have a mental flipbook of my life, featuring team mates giving me the side eye; friends shunning me; acquaintances assuming the worst of me; people I loved standing apart from me. These things happened as a result of me just … being me.*

By the end of my 30s, I was a wreck. I hated myself. I’d been working so hard to be un-me that I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. It was physically and emotionally draining. (I spent a couple hours last night reading blog entries going back several years. I can see it all playing out so clearly.) I prayed earnestly, tearfully and regularly for God to change me.

I wrote a very mean letter to myself in 2011 that started, “Dear Too-much Tracie: Honestly? I don’t like you very much.” It went on to say, “Whenever you open your mouth you stir up trouble. You constantly ruin things for me.” And, “If it weren’t for you, people wouldn’t reject me. I wouldn’t be socially awkward, too loud, a big misfit, afraid to stand out.” I ended the letter with these words: “If there was a Secure Tracie somewhere, I don’t know what she’d say to you. She doesn’t exist. Maybe she will one day, and when she does, she can write to you.”

Welp. As always, God answered my prayers. As always, it wasn’t the way I anticipated. He didn’t do a major personality overhaul. He just … changed my mind about me. It didn’t happen all at once, but it’s been happening gradually. I’ll write about it another time. All I know is, I put on on Secure Tracie’s coat the other day. It’s a bit big, but I’m growing into it. So.

Dear Too-much Tracie:

You and I are one and the same… and I love you, you socially awkward, too loud, big misfit! Go ahead, stand out!

XXOO,
Secure Tracie

*I’m not saying I never did anything wrong or that I never owed anyone an apology. That happened too, of course.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Comfortably Lockless

I realized that after my rather whiny post about cutting off all my hair last month, I never followed up. With more than a month to adjust, here’s how I feel:

I like it! I love it! I’m glad I did it!

Since that post I’ve had it cut twice more (maintenance). I go to the barber shop; it’s easier and cheaper. Currently I’m training my now-regular barber to cut my hair without fear of taking away my girl-ness. Speaking of which, I thought it was adorable when my daughters, then and now respectively, believed I’d turned into a boy when I cut my hair! (Charis, now 16, was 3 when I first cut off all my hair and subsequently allowed it to grow back; Autumn is 6 and never knew me with short hair. Apparently to young girls, endowment with the appropriate number of “x” chromosomes is directly proportionate to the length of one’s hair.) However, I didn’t realize grown men, who cut hair for a living, can also be troubled with this same child-like belief.

Nonetheless, the careful training of my recently-adopted barber began with my first visit. I asked for a trim; he cut approximately .001 millimeters of hair. Despite his obvious trepidation, he did line me up very well. A fine start, all told.

At the second visit I said, gently but firmly, “I want you to cut my hair. Now, when I say cut,” I explained, “I mean like that gentleman there.” I gestured across the aisle at a man whose hair was long enough to brush, but short enough to withstand a strong gust of wind.

“Who, him?!” he asked incredulously.

“Yes, him,” I agreed.

Still shocked, he extended his arm and blatantly pointed. “Him?! Right there?!”

I too, pointed (more tactfully) to the hapless man, who was now the center of attention to the entire shop. “Yes. Him. Right there in front of me.”

After a tense, lengthy pause, he declared his resignation with a deep-chested release of breath. “Okay,” he sighed, in that tone that conveys the warning, “You asked for it!”

But he did a phenomenal job, and I can boast (though my own opinion is probably biased) that despite losing one of the (apparently) more important proofs, I still retained most of my girl credentials when I left his chair. I shall return this weekend to commence his training!

In the meantime, I’ve apparently inspired at least two of my friends to take the same route! Thankfully they’re both single, so I cannot be accosted by angry boyfriends or husbands who might fear mistaking their women for boys if they look too quickly.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

She’s Come Undone …

It’s late (early). I’m not tired, but I’ll pay for it later today. It’s been a while since I’ve been awake enough in the middle of the night to actually get out of bed… And it’s been a good while since I’ve posted anything. I feel detached lately.

I think of my life–the business of being me–and I’m frustrated. I feel like I’m standing in the middle of 9,546,241 very tall piles, and I’m busily moving them and rearranging them. I make some of them shorter by adding to other piles. I make some of them taller by taking away from other piles. But the piles aren’t really going anywhere.

I know these feelings reiterate everything the Bible has always said about life on Earth. More and more I see the truth: This world has nothing for me. Life, as seen through the lens of “achievement” and “success” and “democracy” is empty. Everything is vanity, grasping at the wind. In other words, who gives a crap? Why do I?

But here’s what’s really bothering me: I think I know what to do. I think I know what God wants from me. But I don’t know if I have the courage to do it. It seems impossible, and I’m a chicken. I’m a lazy little chicken, moving piles around because that way it looks (to me, and to everyone except God) like I’m doing something. Moving piles because I know how to do that. I hide behind my 9,546,241 piles, whether I want to or not.

Do I derive some strange comfort from being in this place? Omigosh, I think I do. I guess that’s the price melancholies pay. Here’s something funny: Because of my natural bent, I resent this box called “personality” (specifically the box called “melancholy”) because it means I’m a slave to some prescribed notion of who I am. “YOU DON’T KNOW ME!” I rage at the machine! Yeah. Typical melancholy.

I have to break this cycle. And I know, I really do, that the answer is found in my relationship with God. I’m actively, aggressively being passive with Him. I love Him so much, but I just feel like being in my shell right now. I’d like to pretend He can’t see what I’m doing in here. I know, at least, that He’s waiting for me to poke my head out. I think He’ll smile at me when I do. Like the way my mom smiled at me when I was 3, and I packed a jar of peanut butter and a spoon into a hobo bag and “ran away.” I was gone all of five minutes. And when I came back, my mom smiled at me, and we went on with life. She told me later she’d watched me the whole time I was gone, when I thought I was alone.

I’m going to bed so I can move piles in my dreams.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,